Stories abound from locals who travel to George County’s famous artesian well in the Basin Community to sip its pure and refreshing water and fill a few jugs to carry home. Yet, this particular story would be grossly incomplete if it didn’t mention a Fairley or two.
“It’s been there all my life,” local resident Robbie Fairley, age 60, said. He and his family grew up drinking that water and continue to do so. “Daddy always called it the Fountain of Youth. He lived to his 90s. So did his father, my grandfather, Neil Godford Fairley. My dad’s sister, Dot Fairley Letort, lived to be 101.”
Medical doctors from George County have been known to suggest drinking water from that well to patients with kidney problems. The well serves as a source of drinking water for surrounding communities and surrounding counties. Robbie’s father, Ralph, kept it flowing because he wanted it to be available to all. He also kept it easily accessible. “When we were growing up nobody bought water in bottles like they do now. We could probably bottle it, sell it and get rich, but Daddy always wanted the public to have access to it. He wanted that well to be where people could easily get to it. That was his main goal.”
Located on River Road, Basin’s artesian well is 93 feet deep and lies in close proximity to the Pascagoula River near the entrance to Plum Bluff Estates. Its water flows into a branch that runs into White Creek; White Creek dumps into the Pascagoula River. According to a book called George County Geology and Mineral Resources published in 1966, the well was drilled in 1939. The book includes information from George County data on 200 water wells drilled between 1900 and 1966. An artesian well is one that brings groundwater to the surface without pumping because it is under pressure within a body of rock or sediment known as an aquifer. If water reaches the ground surface under the natural pressure of the aquifer the well is termed a flowing artesian well.
In the 1970s the Basin Homemaker’s Club kept it beautified. They hosted cleanup days and welcomed assistance from community members. They built picnic areas and a pool from blocks that they stocked with goldfish. “People would throw pennies and coins into it,” Robbie said.
A few years ago, the well was only flowing by trickles. In November 2020, Robbie spearheaded the effort to get it flowing better again. Buddy Keel and his son Danny Keel voluntarily laid the blocks. Robbie paid Mike McLeod to pour a concrete walkway and a concrete slab where water comes out and runs to the ditch. “I wanted older people to have a good way to get to the fountain, get their water, and then get back safely to their vehicles,” he said.